Charles Leclerc is back at the pole. Now comes the difficult task of transforming it into a victory.
Leklark won the pole for the fourth race in a row with a blister around the Baku Street circuit in Azerbaijan on Saturday, but the Ferrari driver failed to convert any of his last three pole positions into a win.
Lacklark defeated Red Bull’s Sergio Perez by 0.282 seconds in his last run of the session in a lap race of 1 minute, 41.36 seconds. Formula 1 Championship leader Max Verstappen finished third in another Red Bull, 0.347 less than Leclerc’s pace.
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Leclerc has been first or second in every qualifying round this year, but has not won a race since the Australian Grand Prix in April. Worstapen has won three races in a row and Perez won in Monaco two weeks ago.
“All the pole positions look good but this one, I probably didn’t expect it,” Leclerc said. He said the Red Bull’s cars seemed to be speeding “but then in the last lap everything matched.”
Leclerc started from the last three race poles but passed Verstappen in Miami, retired due to car problems in Spain – where defending champion Worstapen won to pass Leclark for a standing lead – and dropped to fourth place after a foolish tactic in his home race in Monaco. Call by Ferrari. He was also at the pole in Azerbaijan last year, when he was in fourth place.
Perez won last year in Azerbaijan and is picking up his victory at the Monaco Grand Prix. He was excited about his chances in Sunday’s race, but admitted that he was lucky to qualify after tapping the wall.
“I’ve hit it quite a few times but this year the car seems to be very strong,” he said. “I was lucky that I didn’t crash because I was over the limit and trying too hard.”
Perez argued that if he had no problem getting his car into the pit for the final qualifying race, he could have been faster, which would have kept him on track, without the car to slide down the straight path.
Verstappen, who led Leclerc by nine points in the standings, felt that his car was “slightly off the front” in terms of setup balance.
“We may be missing something in one lap, but I think in the long run our car should be quite good,” he said. Like Leclerc, Verstappen was never on stage in Baku and was devastated by the last lead. The year when a tire blew.
Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Senz is fourth, Mercedes’ George Russell is fifth and teammate Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion, is seventh. Pierre Gasley of Alfatouri was sixth.
The stewards summoned McLaren’s Hamilton and Lando Norris for “unnecessarily slow driving” during the second of three qualifying sessions. Norris’ onboard camera footage shows Hamilton driving slowly through the narrow Old City section of the track, and Norris driving slowly to match him.
Hamilton said he would work within the rules and try to get other cars to slipstream and make up for the lack of speed on Mercedes’ straight. The stewards took no action, the ruler Hamilton’s actions were not dangerous and his overall lap time was fast enough.
Norris briefly missed the cut in the second session and qualified 11th, one place ahead of McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Lance Stroll was 19th after crashing twice in the first session. The Canadian was able to run again after running into an obstacle while braking late, but his next lap hit the wall again, breaking the front wing and hanging a wheel.
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